Afghanistan

Afghanistan: Floods devastate Badakhshan and other regions

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KABUL, 30 Jun 2005 (IRIN) - Despite the acceleration of rapid emergency assistance to flood affected parts of Afghanistan, thousands of people continue to suffer. To date, flash floods and storms have left 48 people dead and more than 1,000 injured in 13 provinces of the country in the northeastern, northern, eastern and southeastern regions, according to officials.

The worst affected area is the northeastern province of Badakhshan where officials said floods over the last two weeks had closed several roads and hampered the delivery of aid. According to the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), in Badakhshan at least 40 people have died and up to 1,000 homes destroyed in 65 villages.

"In total, in Badakshan, 1,056 people have been injured and affected by these floods, houses, canals, roads [have been destroyed] and livestock have been killed," Badakhshan governor Abdul Majid said on Thursday from the provincial capital, Faizabad.

The floods are largely a result of rapid snowmelt in upland areas following record snowfalls during the winter.

In addition, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported a series of newly reported flood-related incidents in Balkh, Panjsheer, Bamyan and Badakhshan provinces affecting hundreds of families and causing human and material losses.

"Early this week, three villages in the Shortepa district of the northern Balkh province were affected when the Amu River overflowed, damaging 380 homes," Adrian Edwards a spokesman for UNAMA, said on Thursday.

He added that rising water on the Panjsheer River 90 km north of the capital Kabul, destroyed five km of roads and cut off other roads to three districts of the province.

"In the Badakhshan district of Tagab Kashem, two casualties were reported following a flood yesterday [Wednesday]. Ten bridges were completely destroyed in different districts and the flood situation in Ghandak Valley remains serious," he said, noting the area was still inaccessible by road, hampering damage assessment and aid delivery.

In the central province of Bamyan, efforts to reach 700 families surrounded by water in the villages of Dara-e-Shakari have been problematic.

Authorities in the southeastern province of Khost said on Thursday severe flooding caused by torrential rains had left five people dead and washed away scores of homes.

Local media in Khost said thirty-six people were stranded on a small island in the middle of a river and had had to spend the night there. They were rescued on Thursday morning, according to local newspapers.

Edwards said the MRRD had provided 200 tents and 600 blankets to those affected by the flooding. Additional aid and transportation have been provided by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) the World Food Programme, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) the Afghan Red Crescent Society and the UN Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan.

Joint assessments, led by the MRRD, are continuing in most of the affected provinces. Government helicopters are being used to evacuate villagers from high risk areas as well as to deliver relief aid.

[ENDS]

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